This week Juliana, David and myself are in Washington DC as finalists in the Knight-Batten Awards for innovations in journalism. Out talk will touch on the future of Ushahidi, and the power of citizen journalism, especially in a time of crisis.

In the social media space, we have what is called the 1% rule, which basically states that in any given community only 1% of the population actively contribute new content, 10% will interact with it, and the other 89% will just view it.

However, in a time of crisis – when people are dying, being forcefully displaced, beaten or having their homes burned to the ground – there tends to be an increasing number who want to tell someone what is happening. The barriers of complacency and cultural indifference break down. All of the sudden things matter at an individual level and there is greater incentive to create a record of this.

We’re not the only ones looking at this space, but we are doing it a little differently. Focusing on mobile-only interaction as a basic tenant, and creating a platform that serves the developing world first, then offering that platform to the West as something that they can use too.

Pamoja (Together) Slideshow

Tomorrow’s talk will be tag-teamed by me and Juliana. To start things off though, we want to set the stage with an incredibly well done audio Pamoja Slideshow by Benjamin Chesterton (BBC), Barclay and Yasuyoshi Chiba (nominated for Visa d’OR award).

Ushahidi was was born, built and tested in this environment - and it’s critical that people understand that this is what colors our view to this day.

It’s a great honor to be here. The further we get with Ushahidi, the more it seems like we’re not just a bunch of bloggers and technologists with some interesting ideas, but that we’re representing a community that is supporting our efforts and actively helping us build an organization.